A Florida resident recently pleaded guilty to a multi-million dollar moving company conspiracy.
On August 23, Serghei Verlan pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy in a racketeering enterprise in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. He was indicted in July 2018.
Verlan is accused of defrauding more than 1800 people as part of a racketeering scheme that garnered between $1.5 and $3.5 million.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG), between April 2013 through July 2018, Verlan owned and operated multiple moving companies “that defrauded, extorted, and stole from customers who hired the companies to move their household goods.”
Additionally, DOT-OIG accused Verlan of making false statements to federal regulators and third-party companies to further the scheme, and to customers in conducting affairs of the moving enterprise.
Authorities detailed the racketeering scheme:
To obtain customers, Verlan’s companies provided low binding estimates and promised to beat their competitors’ prices. After loading customers’ goods, they increased their price of the move and held the goods hostage until customers paid the inflated prices. Some loads were not delivered at all. The enterprise also charged customers for moving more cubic feet of household goods than what were actually loaded. When customers complained, the enterprise would shut down the latest iteration of the moving company and open a new one, falsifying information about the owners’ identities in order to fraudulently receive operating licenses from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation contributed to the investigation.